Natural Resource Restoration Issues at DOE
RCED-97-28R: Published: Dec 18, 1996. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 1997.
- Full Report:
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) factors other than unresolved legal issues that could affect the Department of Energy's (DOE) potential liability for natural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and (2) DOE sites' efforts to integrate considerations about natural resource restoration into cleanup activities. GAO noted that: (1) various factors, in addition to unresolved legal issues discussed in a prior GAO report, that could increase DOE's potential liability for natural resource damages include DOE's: (a) not fully cleaning up certain contaminated areas; (b) release of toxic contaminants over areas that extend beyond DOE's boundaries; and (c) release of toxic contaminants that adversely affect endangered species, are spread via the food chain, or adversely affect highly valued natural resources; (2) DOE has begun efforts to integrate natural resource restoration considerations into its cleanup activities; (3) at the site level, DOE's largest sites are beginning efforts to integrate considerations about natural resource restoration into overall cleanup plans; (4) if these efforts succeed, DOE's potential liability for natural resource damages could be reduced; and (5) practical considerations such as budget limitations may limit the extent to which DOE's initiatives can reduce natural resource damage claims.